COCO MARTIN ON THE 500TH EPISODE OF ‘FPJ’S ANG PROBINSYANO’
By Pablo A. Tariman
Thursday last week, Coco Martin celebrated 100 weeks of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano by visiting wounded soldiers at the V. Luna Hospital and distributing gifts and obliging with one selfie after another from one soldier-patient to another.
“Their heroism was what inspired FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” he said. “It is but fair that I acknowledge them and bring cheers in the hour of their difficult moments. The teleserye has always been about the Filipino soldier in general and more about the Filipino policeman. I am happy I am able to acknowledge their brand of heroism through this teleserye which has notched 500 episodes on its 100th week.”
The actor met the press along with the new and old members of the cast of the top-rating teleserye to acknowledge their support.
“This is really very tiring,” he confessed as he revealed his present hectic life taping episodes for the teleserye and directing his debut film, Ang Panday. “I just realized directing is a totally different work from acting and directing teleseryes. Mahirap kung mahirap but I derive strength from my audience patronage. Their endless support gives the cast enough strength to go on no matter the difficulties.”
Indeed, there is a bit of fatigue in the actor’s profile but he derives strength from co-workers. “I don’t know how I came up with the present cast of Ang Probinsyano. Like when I was in Cebu, I saw this kid watching the taping and when I looked into her eyes, I knew she’d be a welcome addition to the teleserye. She became one of the kids based in a Cebu island where my character (Ricardo Dalisay) hid. How did I choose the other children? First, they must look like part of the common people. My teleserye is about an ordinary Filipino family holding on to old virtues of honesty and bravery and courage. What is special about these kids is that they all have common goal of helping their families at an early age. Awra ( McNeal Briguela as Makaria “Makmak” Samonte Jr.) is sending his father to school along with his siblings. But as tapings progress, I realize some of them no longer look like ordinary kids. When they are not taping, they begin to look like well-off kids with brand new clothes and shoes. I always remind them: remember the original characters you are playing. You were poor children in the story and you should not forget that when the cameras roll.”
The old and new members of the cast have one thing to say about Coco.
Dante Rivero says Coco knows the production details but he also looks after the individual needs of his co-workers. “Everybody – heroes and heroines and villains in the story – is treated equally.”
Adds Jhong Hilario: “He treats everyone fair and square. But what is admirable is that he never forgets where he came from. That humble past keeps him grounded.”
After 500 episodes, Susan Roces as Kapitana and Lola Kap says she often wakes up wondering if she is still Susan Roces or the eternal Lola Kap. “After one year, I got so attached to my character I actually begin to think and act like one even behind the cameras. It is a life I cannot experience vicariously if I did not join the cast of Ang Probinsyano.”
Mitch Valdez who plays another Kapitana in another city barangay says it takes a lot of guts to portray the opposite of Susan Roces as barangay captain. “I am so wicked in the teleserye I have the feeling my character will be killed and I hope she remains alive. Otherwise goodbye to Ang Probinsyano.”
To which Coco reacted with a grin saying Mitch’s character will remain alive and she will keep her job a little longer.
The award-winning actors in the cast – John Arcilla, Jaime Fabregas, Angel Aquino, Sid Lucero, among others – say they do very little adjustments acting for teleseryes compared to their acting on film.
Adds Fabregas: “I pin down my character with his past and present and I stick to that. I take out the ‘borloloys’ that come handy when acting on film.”
Opines John Arcilla: “On film, you have to tone down a bit because you are no longer acting in a theater where you must project your voice to the last rows of the audience watching you. Some people think my acting in Heneral Luna is a bit theatrical. I have to. My character is larger than life and I can’t underplay my character. I love this role in the teleserye. It is the virtual opposite of my role in Heneral Luna.”
Since September 2015, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano has kept its spot as the most watched TV program nationwide, hitting an all-time high of 46.7%, according to data from Kantar Media. It has remained unbeaten as viewers’ support remained strong throughout its run.
Thus far, the teleserye has received a total of 79 television awards for its actors and creative staff.
To what factors would the teleserye’s creative staff attribute the sustained audience patronage?
Replied a creative consultant: “We see to it that the story remains focused on an ordinary Filipino family and how they cope with trials and tribulations. We also added new characters to make sure the male audiences can connect very well. That explains the presence of Cesar Montano, Lito Lapid, Victor Neri and now Jestoni Alarcon. The children of the teleserye keep young audiences glued every night. In short, we have something for everyone to make everybody happy.”